3 Ways To Prevent Food Poisoning
Food poisoning, or foodborne illness, is a common affliction in the United States and worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 76 million cases of foodborne illness occur in the United States annually. Food poisoning is caused by contamination of the food by viruses, parasites and, most commonly, bacteria. However, there are things you can do to substantially reduce your chances of getting food poisoning.
Fully Cook Raw Foods
Raw foods, especially those of animal origin, such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs and unpasteurized milk, should not be served without being fully cooked to kill the harmful microorganisms frequently found in them. Cooking raw foods to the appropriate internal temperature and length of time will destroy harmful microorganisms. The time and temperature required is different for each type of meat. While cooking meats, it is best to measure the internal temperature with an appropriate meat thermometer. Undercooked or raw meats can be a source of infection by E. coli O157:H7, salmonella and trichinosis.
Prevent Cross Contamination
Cross contamination is a common cause of food becoming tainted with harmful microorganisms. This is through the transfer of bacteria or other organisms from one food item to another. This happens when microorganisms from raw food are transferred to a previously cooked or ready-to-eat food through contaminated hands, utensils or other items used in preparing food, such as cutting boards. Cross contamination can also occur when juices from raw food drop onto ready-to-eat foods stored below. Washing your hands thoroughly in between handling different categories of foods can help eliminate cross contamination. In addition, keeping food contact surfaces, such as cutting boards and knives, clean and sanitized will help to prevent cross contamination. If a food contact surface is not properly cleaned and sanitized, bacteria can accumulate and grow and become a hazard.
Wash Fruits and Vegetables
Thoroughly wash raw foods, such as fruits and vegetables, before eating them. Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with soil or washed at a farm with contaminated water, which can harbor harmful microorganisms. Numerous cases of food poisoning have been linked to the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Outbreaks with bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, viruses such as hepatitis A and parasites such as cyclospora have been caused by microorganisms that were found on the outer surfaces of fruits and vegetables contaminated via either soil or water.